Video: DTL mappers turn 'Packing and Cracking' into interactive art

Chris Satullo

Rachel Karp and Joseph Amodei


Two Pittsburgh-area theater artists are sharing their rage and knowledge about gerrymandering through an interactive theater piece with the perfect title of “Packing and Cracking.” They’re offering three performances of it for the Philly Fringe Festival, going on now.

'Rachel Gita Karp and Joseph Amodei talked via Zoom with the DTL’s Chris Satullo recently about their piece.  It takes people on a journey exploring  the roles that maps play in their lives, arriving finally at an explanation of the dark arts of the gerrymander, which center around the tactics of “packing” and “cracking.”  You can watch the video here.

If you'd like to attend their event, you can see dates and register here

On the video, you’ll see Karp talk about how the pair worked to create hands-on activities that would connect the arcane topic of redistricting to audience members’ values and daily lives – then reshaped the piece post-pandemic into a virtual experience.

You'll listen as Amodei explains how growing up in North Carolina and living now in Pennsylvania, both notorious gerrymander states, gave them a passion to fight this form of political cheating.

And you’ll hear how the pair’s work creating their own election map as part of DTL’s citizen mapping contest deepened their sense that there is no one “right” map, only different ways of handling the values tradeoffs that sit at the core of the task.

As a team, Karp and Amodei were DTL’s adult division champs in the Western region in the spring 2019 contest.  They are charter members of the project’s new Citizen Map Corps, which will work to help Pennsylvania create good election maps in 2021.